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Stay Afraid: It Sustains the Welfare-Warfare State

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Are you pacing the floors? Are you taking anxiety medication? Are you scared to death?

Well, you should be doing all of the above. Be afraid. The entire world is going to collapse. Sequestration day is upon us.

This is really hilarious. Have you noticed that the mainstream statist editorial writers and commentators have gone silent with all their horrible predictions as to how the world is going to come to an end if the sequestration takes place? That’s because a couple of weeks ago they came to the realization that a deal to avoid the sequestration might not be cut, in which case the sequestration would really happen. That’s when they decided that in the abundance of precaution, they had been stop printing all those scary predictions.

You see, the scary scenarios are part of the strategy to keep federal spending and federal debt soaring. If they can scare people into thinking that disaster is going to strike if federal spending is reduced, then frightened Americans will contact their congressmen and plead, “Please, please, Mr. Congressman. Please do not reduce federal spending. I am so scared of what is going to happen if you do.”

I still think that a last-minute deal might be entered into, for no other reason than that Washington, D.C., statists, both Republicans and Democrats, are themselves scared to death, not because of the sequestration but because people might discover that nothing bad is going to happen when the sequestration goes through. When nothing bad happens, what’s going to happen to all the scary scenarios that the statists will paint about reducing federal spending in the future, such as when the debt ceiling debate takes place?

The whole thing is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. They’re not even cutting overall federal spending. They’re spending more in 2013 than they spent in 2012. How is that a cut? D.C. bureaucrats aren’t getting as big an increase in their budgets as they want and they call that a “cut” even though they’re getting more than they got last year. And tthey’re going to the warpath, doing what they always do in such situations: engage in a strategy of fear-mongering and blackmail.

Everyone knows about “waste, fraud, and abuse” in federal programs, right? Well, wouldn’t you think that this would be an excellent opportunity to get rid of the “waste, fraud, and abuse”? Well, that’s not what they’re doing. Instead, the bureaucrats, with the full support of the politicians, are picking out the things they think are most important to the American people and announcing that that’s what they’re eliminating or reducing. The message is: “Give us the increase we want or pay the price.” It’s a war that the bureaucrats are waging against the American taxpayers.

The entire welfare-warfare state way of life is founded on fear. The idea has always been that if federal officials can keep Americans scared, then Americans will resist libertarian efforts to restore a free society to our land through the dismantling of the welfare-warfare state. No one can deny that the federal fear-mongering has been an enormous success. The American people are among the most fearful people in the world.

Consider the welfare state. Most everyone in the country is inculcated with a deep fear of what would happen if welfare-state programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, were repealed. People would be dying in the streets! There would be mass starvation! Millions would be dying of untreated illnesses and diseases! No one would care. Dog eat dog! Oh, thank goodness for the welfare state. We’d all die without it.

Consider the warfare state. Most everyone in the country is inculcated with a deep fear of what would happen if the Pentagon, the CIA, and the U.S. overseas military empire were dismantled. Oh my gosh! Millions of terrorists would cross the oceans in transport ships and invade and conquer America, running the Interstate Highway System and the public schools. And if they didn’t, the communists surely would! Or the drug dealers! Or, most scary of all, the illegal aliens! Aagh!!!

The Pentagon and the CIA are masters at conjuring up fearful scenarios to keep people afraid. Think back to the Cold War, when they kept Americans fearful over the so-called missile gap, where they falsely maintained that the Soviet Union was ahead of the United States in nuclear missiles.

And if they have trouble coming up with scary imaginary scenarios, they just go out and produce them, as they did with anti-American terrorism. They go out and poke a bunch of hornets’ nests and then when there is terrorist retaliation, they exclaim, “We’re innocent! We didn’t do anything! The terrorists are coming to get you! National security is at stake! You need us to keep you safe. Keep us around and, even better, give us more money.”

Consider the drug war. Most everyone in the country is inculcated with a deep fear of drug legalization. No one could resist the lure of drugs.  The entire country would immediately fall into a drug-induced stupor, which would then enable the terrorists, communists, drug dealers, and illegal aliens to invade and occupy the country (see previous paragraph). Reefer madness, cocaine madness, heroin madness, and meth madness would sweep across the land. No one would be working anymore. Everyone would go on welfare.

Consider federal spending. If we don’t lift the debt ceiling, economic Armageddon will take place. America will fall into the ocean. Everyone will die.

It is all so patently ridiculous, but all so necessary to keep people frightened. Fear is the necessary prerequisite to maintaining a giant socialist, interventionist, imperialist apparatus in a representative democracy. Otherwise, if people were to lose their fear, they quite rationally might ask, “Why do we need the welfare-warfare state? Why shouldn’t we experience a free society by dismantling all this statist junk?”

The best thing that could ever happen to America is a repeal of all federal welfare-state programs and all warfare-state programs as well as the taxes that fund them, including the income tax. Sure, people working in the federal sector would be dislocated but that’s not a bad thing. They would orient toward the private sector, where people would be creating new economic opportunities with the money that they would now be free to keep. And all those dislocated companies and workers would now be in the private, productive sector rather than the public, parasitic sector.

What’s the solution to all this statism? Libertarianism, plus a nation of people who are not gripped by fear. To paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, the only thing we need to do is conquer fear itself, especially fear inculcated by the welfare-warfare state.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.